Gig of the year

 

 

 Patti Smith  – Shepherds Bush Empire 

October 20th 2007

 

Ever since performing at the CBGB in Lower East Side, New York, back in the early 70s Patti Smith has celebrated the life of French symbolist poet, Arthur Rimbaud.    Essentially tonight is another cause celebre, inspiring Smith to translate her muse into something inspirational.

 

The counter-cultural icon is on irrepressible form tonight, whether rallying against corporate greed or encouraging self-worth she imbues the spirit and freewheeling attitude of the 60’s without ever falling into parody.

This is highlighted by a clarinet led version of ‘Are you experienced’, which floats and meanders with mystical charm.  Her rendition of ‘Gimme Shelter’ is positively brimming with attitude while guitarist Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine adds trebly texture to the mix. 

 

Led by her long time collaborative partner Lenny Kaye the band show versatility, adept at expressing the changing moods of Smith’s show.  This is most apparent during the poetry readings, with the band caressing the sound around Smiths messianic figure.   

Her affections for the poet transcend beyond the usual parameters of a gig and truly engage the crowd.  She ad-libs her way through the mesmerising “Beneath the Southern Cross” and imbues a sense of theatre with the tragic reading of “Abyssinia”. 

 

Smith conveys a passion that remains undiminished since her early days.  During her cover of Nirvana’s  Smells Like Teen Spirit” she completely inhibits the song, exhuming the spirit of Kurt Cobain with a potent, trance-like finale.

Her biggest selling single “Because the Night” exudes majesty, while the loudest cheer of the night is reserved for an incendiary medley of “Horses/Land of a Thousand Dances/Gloria”, which through the sheer energy of the moment Smith bounds around the stage completely uninhibited.

 

The venomous punk-tirade “Pissing Factory” completes the encore with Smith admonishing the ills of a capitalist society.  Remaining as subversive as ever Patti Smith retains the attitude of a golden generation.  Firmly secured in the pantheon of rock tradition she continues to fly the flag of expression whilst maintaining an air of undiluted integrity.

 

 

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